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The top 5 hand strengthening exercises for stronger hands

Our hands do so much for us from the moment we hit the snooze button in the morning, to the moment we pull up the covers at night, and so much more in between.  

Our hands write, type, and text; cook, bake, and clean; they button, zip, and lift; and hug, hold, and squeeze. This is just a few of the hundreds of tasks you use your hands for on a daily basis. 

They are our tools to help us function throughout the day.

It isn’t until we sustain an injury or start having aches and pains when we FINALLY decide to do anything for them. 

Sometimes we notice a grandparent’s deformed hands and start to think about taking better care of of our own hands.  

Isn’t it time to start caring for your hands like you do those washboard abs?

Why do we need to do Hand strengthening exercises?

Since our hands do so many activities without us even thinking; it’s important to keep them strong so they can withstand stress and strain. 

Hand strengthening exercises:

Build grip and pinch strength

Reduce joint pain and stiffness

Improve hand endurance

Improve dexterity and fine motor coordination

Reduce risk of hand injuries

Keep in mind, if you don’t have full range of motion of your fingers, then you should work on mobility first. You don’t want to strengthen your hands in a limited range of motion. 

However, if you have full mobility then these top 5 hand strengthening exercises can help you build your grip, improve hand performance, and reduce your chance of painful hand injuries.

Remember, these strengthening exercises should not be painful. You may notice your fingers getting tired or a little sore but if you have sharp pain you should slow down or discontinue.  

 (These hand exercises are not to be used in replacement of medical advice; always consult a physician before starting this or exercise program. See our disclaimer.)

You will need only two pieces of equipment to get started.  Therapy Putty and a thick rubber band. If you don’t have putty then use a squishy ball. The Therapy Putty used in this post is a light resistance. Putty comes in different colors which indicate different resistances. You can find therapy putty here in our store or here on Amazon (these are affiliate links).

1

Putty grip and squeeze exercise:

I like using the putty versus a ball because you can squeeze all the way through to your palm. A ball blocks your movement and only allows you to strengthen within a limited range of motion.  Also, as you manipulate the putty in your hand this can work on dexterity and coordination of the fingers and thumb.

Hold the putty in your hand and squeeze it into your hand until your fingertips reach your palm, then release and manipulate the putty in your hand and prepare to squeeze again. Set a timer for 2-3 minutes or repeat 20 times. 

hand strengthening exercises
Squeeze fingers through putty.
hand strengthening exercises
Manipulate putty in your palm using fingers.
hand strengthening exercises
Repeat squeezing or gripping putty.

2

Thumb pinch strengthening exercise:

So many hand strengthening exercises forget the thumb. I will never understand that because our thumb is half our hand function! If you don’t have strength in our thumbs you won’t be able to pinch open bags or bottles or lids.

Using the putty, roll it out into a ‘hot dog’ shape about 1-2 inches thick. Using your index finger and thumb, pinch along the putty, making little indents along the length of the putty. 

Do this 10-20 times.  Change up the type of pinch by placing your thumb on top and pinching toward your index finger. Again do this 10-20 times. Try different pinches with your thumb for a total of 2-3 minutes.

hand pinch strengthening
Pinching with index finger on top.
hand pinch strengthening
Pinching with thumb on top.

3

Isometric hooks exercises:

You do not need any equipment for this exercise, just your other hand.  An isometric exercise is when you contract a muscle without moving; using the maximal voluntary contraction.  

For this exercise, place your fingers in a hook fist, then clasp, or hook, the fingers together at your chest. One hand will be facing palm up and the other will be facing palm down. 

Once your fingers are clasped together, use your arms to pull in an outward position while maintaining your hook fists. Hold for 5 seconds then relax. Repeat 10-20 times with right hand on top then switch to left hand on top, repeat.  

This is not only great for the fingers but also for the whole upper body!

Finger isometric exercises
Hook fingers together, resist pulling fingers apart. Switch hand placement.

4

Rubber band abduction exercise:

Place the rubber band over all four fingers. Do not include thumb. Now spread your fingers apart as far as you can, hold 5 seconds then relax. Repeat 10-20 times.  

This exercise is great for intrinsic hand strengthening because it targets the muscles of the hand that lie deep between the fingers. 

You should see the muscle near your index finger plump up. You can also try this with the putty by making a loop around your fingers.

Spread fingers apart until you see a muscle contraction.

5

Rubber band ‘C’ thumb exercise:

Place the rubber band over all four fingers and your thumb. Keeping your fingers together, open your thumb out to the side into a ‘C’ position (not thumbs up position). 

Make a ‘C’ with your fingers and thumb, hold 5 seconds then relax. Repeat 10-20 times.  Your thumb and fingers should look like you are opening your hand to hold a cup or can of pop.

intrinsic hand strengthening
Open fingers and thumb in the shape of a "C".
intrinsic hand strengthening
You want to see your thumb muscles contract.

DONE! These exercises can be performed 1-2 times a day. You can do them at work, watching tv, or waiting to pick up your child from practice. Just don’t leave the putty in a hot car!

If you have found this article helpful, do us a favor and share on our social media channels!

Do you want to watch these exercises being performed? Check out our video here. 

Play Video

For more hand strengthening exercises and tips, schedule a one on one video call with one of our Hand Strengthening and Movement Specialists.

Find out how Virtual Hand Care helps others conveniently on your mobile device.

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